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1 Corinthians 1:12

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Every one of you saith - It seems from this expression that the whole Church at Corinth was in a state of dissension: they were all divided into the following sects

  1. Paulians, or followers of St. Paul;
  • Apollonians, or followers of Apollos;
  • Kephians, or followers of Kephas;
  • Christians, or followers of Christ.
  • See the Introduction, Section 5.

    The converts at Corinth were partly Jews and partly Greeks. The Gentile part, as Dr. Lightfoot conjectures, might boast the names of Paul and Apollos; the Jewish, those of Kephas and Christ. But these again might be subdivided; some probably considered themselves disciples of Paul, he being the immediate instrument of their conversion, while others might prefer Apollos for his extraordinary eloquence.

    If by Kephas the apostle Peter be meant, some of the circumcision who believed might prefer him to all the rest; and they might consider him more immediately sent to them; and therefore have him in higher esteem than they had Paul, who was the minister or apostle of the uncircumcision: and on this very account the converted Gentiles would prize him more highly than they did Peter.

    Instead of Christ, Χριστου, some have conjectured that we should read Κρισπου, of Crispus; who is mentioned 1 Corinthians 1:14. And some think that Χριστου, of Christ, is an interpolation, as it is not likely that Christ in any sense of the word could be said to be the head of a sect, or party, in his own Church; as all those parties held that Gospel, of which himself was both the author and the subject. But it is very easy to conceive that, in a Church so divided, a party might be found, who, dividing Christ from his ministers, might be led to say, "We will have nothing to do with your parties, nor with your party spirit; we are the disciples of Christ, and will have nothing to do with Paulians, Apollonians, or Kephians, as contradistinguished from Christ." The reading Κρισπου for Χριστου is not acknowledged by any MS. or version.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Now this I say - This is what I mean; or, I give this as an instance of the contentions to which I refer.

    That every one of you saith - That you are divided into different factions, and ranged under different leaders. The word translated “that” ὅτι hotimight be translated here, “because,” or “since,” as giving a reason for his affirming 1 Corinthians 1:11 that there were contentions there. “Now I say that there are contentions, because you are ranged under different leaders,” etc. - Calvin.

    I am of Paul - It has been doubted whether Paul meant to affirm that the parties had actually taken the names which he here specifies, or whether he uses these names as illustrations, or suppositions, to show the absurdity of their ranging themselves under different leaders. Many of the ancient interpreters supposed that Paul was unwilling to specify the real names of the false teachers and leaders of the parties, and that he used these names simply by way of illustration. This opinion was grounded chiefly on what he says in 1 Corinthians 4:6, “And these things, brethren, I have ‹in a figure‘ transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes,” etc. But in this place Paul is not referring so particularly to the factions or parties existing in the church, as he is to the necessity of modesty and humility; and in order to enforce this, he refers to himself and Apollos to show that even those most highly favored should have a low estimate of their importance, since all their success depends on God; see 1 Corinthians 3:4-6.

    It can scarcely be doubted that Paul here meant to say that there were parties existing in the church at Corinth, who were called by the names of himself, of Apollos, of Cephas, and of Christ. This is the natural construction; and this was evidently the information which he had received by those who were of the family of Chloe. Why the parties were ranged under these leaders, however, can be only a matter of conjecture. Lightfoot suggests that the church at Corinth was composed partly of Jews and partly of Gentiles; see Galatians 2:7; and this circumstance might give rise to the division. Apollos succeeded Paul in Achaia, and labored successfully there; see Acts 18:27-28. These two original parties might be again sub-divided. A part of those who adhered to Paul and Apollos might regard Saul with chief veneration, as being the founder of the church as the instrument of their conversion, as the chief apostle, as signally pure in his doctrine and manner; and a part might regard Apollos as the instrument of their conversion, and as being distinguished for eloquence. It is evident that the main reason why Apollos was regarded as the head of a faction was on account of his extraordinary eloquence, and it is probable that his followers might seek particularly to imitate him in the graces of popular elocution.

    And I of Cephas, Peter; - compare John 1:42. He was regarded particularly as the apostle to the Jews; Galatians 2:7. He had his own speciality of views in teaching, and it is probable that his teaching was not regarded as entirely harmonious with that of Paul; see Galatians 2:11-17. Paul had everywhere among the Gentiles taught that it was not necessary to observe the ceremonial laws of Moses; and, it is probable, that Peter was regarded by the Jews as the advocate of the contrary doctrine. Whether Peter had been at Corinth is unknown. If not, they had heard of his name, and character; and those who had come from Judea had probably reported him as teaching a doctrine on the subject of the observance of Jewish ceremonies unlike that of Paul.

    And I of Christ - Why this sect professed to be the followers of Christ, is not certainly known. It probably arose from one of the two following causes:

    (1)Either that they had been in Judea and had seen the Lord Jesus, and thus regarded themselves as particularly favored and distinguished: or,

    (2)More probably because they refused to call themselves by any inferior leader, and wished to regard Christ alone as their head, and possibly prided themselves on the belief that they were more conformed to him than the other sects.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    In the great things of religion be of one mind; and where there is not unity of sentiment, still let there be union of affection. Agreement in the greater things should extinguish divisions about the lesser. There will be perfect union in heaven, and the nearer we approach it on earth, the nearer we come to perfection. Paul and Apollos both were faithful ministers of Jesus Christ, and helpers of their faith and joy; but those disposed to be contentious, broke into parties. So liable are the best things to be corrupted, and the gospel and its institutions made engines of discord and contention. Satan has always endeavoured to stir up strife among Christians, as one of his chief devices against the gospel. The apostle left it to other ministers to baptize, while he preached the gospel, as a more useful work.
    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 401

    Thus will the truth be brought into practical life, and thus will be answered the prayer of Christ, uttered just before His humiliation and death: “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.” John 17:21. The love of Christ, the love of our brethren, will testify to the world that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. Then will the message of the third angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord. 6T 401.1

    *****

    Our convictions need daily to be reinforced by humble, sincere prayer and reading of the word. While we each have an individuality, while we each should hold our convictions firmly, we must hold them as God's truth and in the strength which God imparts. If we do not, they will be wrung from our grasp. 6T 401.2

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    Ellen G. White
    The Acts of the Apostles, 279-80

    God has placed in the church, as His appointed helpers, men of varied talents, that through the combined wisdom of many the mind of the Spirit may be met. Men who move in accordance with their own strong traits of character, refusing to yoke up with others who have had a long experience in the work of God, will become blinded by self-confidence, unable to discern between the false and the true. It is not safe for such ones to be chosen as leaders in the church; for they would follow their own judgment and plans, regardless of the judgment of their brethren. It is easy for the enemy to work through those who, themselves needing counsel at every step, undertake the guardianship of souls in their own strength, without having learned the lowliness of Christ. AA 279.1

    Impressions alone are not a safe guide to duty. The enemy often persuades men to believe that it is God who is guiding them, when in reality they are following only human impulse. But if we watch carefully, and take counsel with our brethren, we shall be given an understanding of the Lord's will; for the promise is, “The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way.” Psalm 25:9. AA 279.2

    In the early Christian church there were some who refused to recognize either Paul or Apollos, but held that Peter was their leader. They affirmed that Peter had been most intimate with Christ when the Master was upon the earth, while Paul had been a persecutor of the believers. Their views and feelings were bound about by prejudice. They did not show the liberality, the generosity, the tenderness, which reveals that Christ is abiding in the heart. AA 279.3

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    Ellen G. White
    The Acts of the Apostles, 270

    While in Ephesus, Apollos “began to speak boldly in the synagogue.” Among his hearers were Aquila and Priscilla, who, perceiving that he had not yet received the full light of the gospel, “took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” Through their teaching he obtained a clearer understanding of the Scriptures and became one of the ablest advocates of the Christian faith. AA 270.1

    Apollos was desirous of going on into Achaia, and the brethren at Ephesus “wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him” as a teacher in full harmony with the church of Christ. He went to Corinth, where, in public labor and from house to house, “he mightily convinced the Jews, ... showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” Paul had planted the seed of truth; Apollos now watered it. The success that attended Apollos in preaching the gospel led some of the believers to exalt his labors above those of Paul. This comparison of man with man brought into the church a party spirit that threatened to hinder greatly the progress of the gospel. AA 270.2

    During the year and a half that Paul had spent in Corinth, he had purposely presented the gospel in its simplicity. “Not with excellency of speech or of wisdom” had he come to the Corinthians; but with fear and trembling, and “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” had he declared “the testimony of God,” that their “faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1, 4, 5. AA 270.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Fundamentals of Christian Education, 352

    Is it necessary that in order to solve the problem of education one must commit robbery toward God, and refuse to give God the willing service of the powers of the spirit, soul, and body? God calls upon you to be doers of His word, in order that you may be thoroughly educated in the principles that will give you a fitness for heaven. No method of education should be followed that will crowd out the word of God. Let the word of God be the man of your counsel. The purpose of education should be to take in light in order that you may impart light by letting it shine forth to others in good works. The highest of all education is the knowledge of God. “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” Read the first and second chapters of 1 Corinthians with deep interest, and pray that God will give you understanding so that you may comprehend and put into practice the truths there revealed. “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” “The Lord is exalted; for He dwelleth on high: He hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness. And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the Lord is his treasure.” FE 352.1

    Time is short, and there are but few workers in the vineyard of the Lord. Several have been sent from this part of the world to be educated at Battle Creek, in order that they may become laborers together with God. It was hoped that the Holy Spirit would work with them for the salvation of those who are in the shadow of death. These students have been supported by the sacrifices of men and women who, to my certain knowledge, have hired money to pay the tuition and to cover the expenses. The world is to be warned; and yet you have thought it necessary to consume time and money in making an unnecessarily large preparation for the work that these students may be called upon to do. The same God lives today that Isaiah saw in his vision, and can give enlightenment to those who are acting a part in the work of fitting men for a solemn, sacred work. He says: “I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.” FE 353.1

    Those who are directing in the work of education are placing too large an amount of study before those who have come to Battle Creek to fit up for the work of the Master. They have supposed that it was necessary for them to go deeper and deeper into educational lines; and while they are pursuing various courses of study, year after year of precious time is passing away, and golden opportunities are flitting by never to return. There is procrastination in setting these men to work; and students are losing their burden for souls, and are depending more and more upon an education in book-knowledge, rather than upon the efficiency of the Holy Spirit, and upon that which the Lord has promised to do for them. FE 353.2

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